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How to improve reading comprehension at home
FRIDAY, MAY 01, 2015 10:45 AM

Though reading comprehension may sound like a simple skill, it's actually fairly complex for beginning readers. In basic terms, reading comprehension means being able to understand what a text is saying as you're reading it. But for younger children, comprehension requires a variety of skills they may still be developing. These abilities include having a broad vocabulary as well as being able to summarize main points, ask and answer questions based on the text, and understand how language is being used. Children can learn reading comprehension in school, but one of the best ways to improve the skill is to practice as much as possible at home. Here are a few tips parents can use to help children with reading comprehension:

Incorporate family reading time
According to a 2014 report from Scholastic, one of the biggest predictors for whether children will be frequent readers is if their parents read to them 5 to 7 nights a week at home. So, incorporate reading aloud into your children's schedules at an early age, and continue the habit throughout elementary school. Many parents find this easiest to fit in before bedtime each night. Allow children to do at least a little of the reading aloud on their own, so they can practice reading and comprehending at the same time.

Practicing reading is one thing, but discussing the books you read afterward is an effective way to help your kids think of the texts and stories in different and analytical ways. After reading a book (or a chapter of a book) together, talk about it a little. You can even do this on the way to school the next morning or at dinnertime the next day. Ask questions like, "How did you feel about the way this character handled this situation?" Craft open-ended questions that make your children think about the text on a deeper level.

Allow them to read everything
It isn't just reading books that allows children to improve comprehension. Encourage your kids to read everything they can each day to help build their vocabularies and understand different textual formats. This could mean prompting them to navigate while reading directions on your phone in the car, give you directions from a recipe as you cook dinner or read a shopping list in the grocery store - whatever reading they can do throughout each day will help.

Give them choices
Remember that a key way for children to become better readers is for reading to be exciting. Make going to the library or bookstore a fun event, and allow them to pick out the books - fictional and nonfictional - they're most interested in.